Sheffield scientists study protein in a bid to boost existing cancer treatment

A protein that helps tumour cells resist the effects of chemotherapy will be the target of a new 12 month study at the University of Sheffield's Institute for Cancer Studies.

Scientists have identified a key protein that enables some tumour cells to survive the DNA damage caused by cancer therapies like chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

Following a £41,000 award from Yorkshire Cancer Research, they now hope to stop the protein, known as hPIF1, from working inside cancer cells so that existing treatments are more effective.

Dr Cyril Sanders, Lecturer in Molecular Genetics of Cancer at the University of Sheffield, who is leading the study, said: "Chemotherapy and ionising radiation work by causing genetic damage that kills rapidly dividing cancer cells. However, lack of tumour specificity and resistance limit their effectiveness.

"If we can inactivate the hPIF1 protein we could increase the potency of cancer treatments. We will screen chemical libraries to find hPIF1 inhibitors in order to validate our hypothesis. This will be the first step in the drug discovery process that could, in the medium to long-term, result in a new, targeted, cancer treatment."

The University of Sheffield's Institute for Cancer Studies provides an interactive environment for basic and translational cancer research that promotes the understanding of the causes and cures of cancer. Current research projects in the Institute focus on genetic instability in cancer. Basic research programmes probe mechanisms of DNA repair, recombination, DNA synthesis, cell cycle check points and cell death.

Translational research aims to determine the effect of inherited alterations of damage response pathway on cancer risk and outcome and the consequences of acquired alterations on tumour development and therapy.

Notes for Editors: For more information about the Institute for Cancer Studies visit Oncology Unit

To find out more about the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health at the University of Sheffield visit Faculty of Medicine Health and Dentistry

For more information about Yorkshire Cancer Research visit Yorkshire Cancer Research Trust

With nearly 25,000 students from 125 countries, the University of Sheffield is one of the UK's leading and largest universities. A member of the Russell Group, it has a reputation for world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines.

The University of Sheffield has been named University of the Year in the Times Higher Education Awards for its exceptional performance in research, teaching, access and business performance. In addition, the University has won four Queen's Anniversary Prizes (1998, 2000, 2002, 2007). These prestigious awards recognise outstanding contributions by universities and colleges to the United Kingdom's intellectual, economic, cultural and social life. Sheffield also boasts five Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students and many of its alumni have gone on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence around the world.The University's research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls Royce, Unilever, Boots, AstraZeneca, GSK, ICI, Slazenger, and many more household names, as well as UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.

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